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Tips for Starting a Freelance Business

If you’re thinking about starting a freelance business, then you probably already know that there is a ton of information out there about it.  I started freelancing full time four years ago, but I had been doing it part time for quite a few years before that.  I’ve learned an awful lot from trial and error.  While everyone is going to have a different experience depending on specialties, interests, and even location, here’s a little bit of information that may help you get started:

Office Space:  You need a place to work, right?  For most freelancers, it makes sense to work in your home.  You don’t have to pay a separate fee for rent, and the commute is always a short one.

That being said, though, home can be incredibly distracting.  Kids, pets, spouses, and the sink full of dirty dishes can keep you from your work.  Find a dedicated space in your home for your office, and use it.  I love to work from the couch, but I’m not nearly as productive there as I am at my desk.  Headphones are also great for drowning out distractions and keeping you focused.

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Polish your CV.  Just like when you’re applying for “real” jobs, you need a resume to show your skills to potential clients.  Have you had an article published somewhere?  Done any work for a local company that relates to your expertise?  Let everyone know just what you can do!

Brush up on your skills.  Spend a little time each week on continuing education.  It doesn’t matter if you have a degree; there’s still more out there to learn!

Have a plan for getting work.  Don’t quit your day job and dive into the freelance world unless you have at least some idea of where you’ll get clients and how you’ll get paid.  Determine what kind of work you want to do (copywriting, editing, ghostwriting, etc.) and where you can get jobs in those categories.  I’ll be going into more detail on another blog post about how to get clients.

Schedule your due dates carefully.  Got a gig?  Congrats!  If you’re just diving into the freelance world, you might not have an accurate idea of just how long it will take you to finish a project.  Give yourself more time than you need when making promises to clients to avoid running late.

Set a goal.  Just because you work for yourself doesn’t mean you can’t have goals, bonuses, and business hours.  Set a goal that works for you, whether its by how much money you make, how many jobs you land, or how many hours you put in each month.  While you’re in the beginning stages of your freelancing, you may just set a goal for how many proposals you put in or how many businesses you contact about your services.  Don’t forget to reward yourself when you meet that goal!  Personally, I like to buy myself something when I hit my monthly income goal.

But seriously.  You might find that others don’t take your work seriously, and you may have that problem yourself when you’re sitting at home working in your pajamas at three in the afternoon.  But this is still business!   Get up and get to work on time (whatever time that may be) and don’t just skip out on work because you feel like you can.  It’s great to have a flexible schedule, but that’s not the same as blowing off your work.

As exciting as it can be to make the jump to freelancing, remember that you’ll have good days and you’ll have bad days.  You may have a week where you get no work at all, followed by a week where you’re offered so much you can’t possibly accept every job. Don’t give up!  It can be a little difficult to get your career off the ground, but it’s not impossible!  As you get further into career, you’ll find clients who use you regularly and make meeting those monthly goals easy.  I’ll be making more posts about freelancing, so be sure to look out for them.  Good luck!

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Ashley O’Melia is an independent author and freelancer from Southern Illinois.  She holds her Bachelor’s Degree in Creative Writing and English from Southern New Hampshire University.  Her books include The Wanderer’s Guide to Dragon Keeping and The Graveside DetectiveHer short stories have been published in The Penmen Review, Paradox, and Subcutaneous.  Ashley’s freelance work has spanned numerous genres for clients around the world.  You can find her on Facebook and Amazon.

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Tips for a Successful Freelance Business

I’ve been doing freelance work part time for seven years, and I began doing it full time four years ago.  It’s been an interesting little roller coaster, with plenty of ups (This is amazing and I can’t believe I haven’t been doing this my entire adult life!), downs (Oh crap.  I’m going to have to get a real job again.), and smooth stretches (When was the last time I wore real pants?  Who cares?).

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I’ve learned a lot, and there’s far more than I could fit into any single blog post, but here are a few tips for keeping your freelance business running smoothly:

Take an admin day at least once a week.  Go over your due dates, pay your bills, organize your desk.  Do all the things you don’t normally have time to do because you’re too busy writing!  It doesn’t even have to be a full day, but maybe a couple of hours.  Just keep it scheduled every week so you don’t miss it.

Keep a spreadsheet of your due dates.  I always have them written in my desk planner, but it really helps me get a good assessment of what I’ve got coming up for the next couple of months if I can see it all laid out in front of me.  In fact, I keep a lot of spreadsheets!

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Always give more than you promise.  This applies to any job.  If you tell your client you’ll have their project in by the 10th, give it to them by the 8th.  Don’t let anything leave your computer without being thoroughly proofread, even if you know they’ll have an editor look over it as well.  Never think of your jobs as anything less important than your own writing, and give them your all.  The biggest compliment you can get is for a client to hire you again, and they’ll be likely to do it if they know they can expect quality work from you.

Stay in touch with your clients.  We’re all human, and things happen.  Maybe you’re sick, or your child is sick, or your gecko died and you just can’t even.  Things happen, and you might occasionally not be able to meet your deadlines.  Call or email your clients and let them know you’ll be running a little late.  Most of the time, you’ll find that they’ll be very understanding., and they’ll also be grateful to you for being upfront with them.

Don’t bite off more than you can chew.  It can be very tempting to take every job you’re offered.  After all, the more you work the more money you make!  But it won’t be worth it if you’re staying up all night to get projects in before the deadline, and you won’t be making as much money if your clients stop hiring you because your quality is slipping.  Schedule out your due dates carefully, and always add a little extra padding in there for emergencies.  As noted above, things happen, and it’s nice to know you can take a morning off to watch Star Trek now and then.

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Have any other tips for freelancers?  Feel free to share in the comments below!

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Ashley O’Melia is an independent author and freelancer from Southern Illinois.  She holds her Bachelor’s Degree in Creative Writing and English from Southern New Hampshire University.  Her books include The Wanderer’s Guide to Dragon Keeping and The Graveside DetectiveHer short stories have been published in The Penmen Review, Paradox, and Subcutaneous.  Ashley’s freelance work has spanned numerous genres for clients around the world.  You can find her on Facebook and Amazon.

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Filed under freelancing, On Writing, Work-at-Home Mom